Tools You Need: New fuel filter, new fuel line washers, open end wrenches, rags, eye protection
Time to Complete: 30 minutes
Estimated Cost: $20
car fuel filter
For $20, a new fuel filter can protect your engine from very costly damages, so follow the rule of thumb and replace it annually. But keep in mind that like changing brake pads, this is an advanced DIY project. Make sure you’re not in over your head before starting this one. I did it once, and did it correctly, but I definitely paid attention to every detail during the process. Dealing with fuel and fuel filters can be dangerous work if you’re not prepared. If you’re not a DIY mechanic, let a pro do this annual job for you.
Most importantly, start by relieving fuel system pressure. If you don’t, the results can be explosive, to say the least. Locate the fuel pump fuse on the fuse box. If you don’t have a fuel pump fuse, find the relay that operates the fuel pump. Start your car, and with the engine running, pull the fuse or relay out. When the engine dies, you’ll know that you pulled the right one.
Disconnect the fuel lines from the fuel filter. Find two open-end wrenches that are the correct size for your fuel filter fittings (usually you’ll need two different sizes).
When the wrenches are in place, put a rag over the fitting to protect yourself in case there is still some pressure in the lines.
Hold the wrench that fits on the actual filter, and turn the other wrench counter-clockwise until that bolt comes out.
Slide the fuel line off the bolt and set the bolt aside.
Repeat the process for the other side of the fuel filter.
Remove the old fuel filter. Most filters are held in place by a clamp that you can release by using a flathead screwdriver. Be careful here, as the old fuel filter could still have some gas in it!
Change the fuel filter washers, which are located on the bolts that connect the fuel lines to the fuel filter. Make sure to match the new ones up correctly.
Install the new fuel filter, which is the opposite of the process you performed to remove the old fuel filter.
Return the fuel pump fuse or relay before you try to start the car.
This project is another “DIY 2.0” task. Dealing with the fuel system is serious business, so if you’re unfamiliar with any of these terms and don’t know where to start, just visit your mechanic for this regular service.